Despite its poor-country status, increasing numbers of tourists have visited Bangladesh, a new but minor source of foreign exchange earning. Tourism in the early 1980s amounted to some 49,000 visitors per year, but by 1986 more than 129,000 tourists--mostly from India, the United States, Britain, and Japan--visited Bangladesh. According to the Bangladesh Parjaton Corporation (Bangladesh Tourism Corporation), some Tk44.6 million in foreign exchange was earned in 1986 from the tourism industry. PROBLEMS AND PROSPECTS
The Bangladesh government and the Bangladesh Aid Group have taken seriously the idea that Bangladesh is the test case for development. In the late 1980s, it was possible to say, in the somewhat patronizing tone sometimes adopted by representatives of donor organizations, that Bangladesh had generally been a "good performer." Even in straitened times for the industrialized countries, Bangladesh remained a favored country for substantial commitments of new aid resources from a strikingly broad range of donors. The total estimated disbursement for FY 1988 was estimated at US$1.7 billion, an impressive total but just US$16 per capita. Half of that total was for food aid and other commodities of limited significance for economic growth. Even with the greatest imaginable efficiency in planning and administration, resource-poor and overpopulated Bangladesh cannot achieve significant economic improvements on the basis of that level of assistance.
In examining the economy of Bangladesh, wherever one turns the problems crowd in and threaten to overwhelm the analysis. Underlying problems that have threatened the young nation remain unsolved. These problems include overpopulation and inadequate nutrition, health, and education resources; a low standard of living, land scarcity, and vulnerability to natural disaster; virtual absence of valuable metals; and inadequate government and bureaucratic...